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The sense of disappointment within London’s grand Guildhall was palpable.
One of the rooms hosting dignitaries and other invited guests had been left without a member of the Royal Family present to mingle and chat as promised.
The mood turned frosty when the upset attendees, who had expected to be hosted by a minor royal as they were served English sparkling wine and a buffet of traditional dishes like coronation chicken and smoked duck, were told by organisers it was because the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had turned down an invitation to attend.
But it wasn’t just the public who were stunned at Harry and Meghan’s notable snub following an awkward appearance at St Paul’s Cathedral for the Service of Thanksgiving.
That carefully choreographed event had been derailed by the boos received by Harry and Meghan from onlookers as they entered and then departed the church where Princess Diana famously married Prince Charles – the worst nightmare for courtiers who have long feared normally polite monarchists might vocally turn on the couple after their unrelenting attacks on the institution since Megxit.
I’ve learned some members of the Royal Family and many senior courtiers were horrified at the detached and cold appearance by the exiled couple, who had also made the decision to fly out of the country before the Queen had even made her historic Buckingham Palace balcony appearance, alongside Charles, Camilla and the Cambridges, on Sunday evening.
Harry and Meghan pictured at the National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday
Prince Charles, the Queen, Prince George, Prince William, Princess Charlotte, Kate and Prince Louis on the balcony during the Platinum Jubilee Pageant on Sunday
Prince Harry looks out the window after arriving back in the US prior to the end of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations
Any hopes the glorious Platinum Jubilee would provide an opportunity for public healing were dashed.
In fact, the weekend’s events show the gulf between Harry and Meghan and the Royal Family remains bigger than ever.
There was not one public sign of rapprochement.
And while Harry and Meghan cannot be accused of attempting to steal the limelight – even though Meghan did tellingly seem to wind down her car window in the presence of photographers – the couple’s actions appeared designed to make it clear to the world that they continue to disapprove of, not only their blood relatives, but the institution they represent.
Meanwhile, the lack of trust between the warring camps is now off the scale.
It might sound like a ridiculous concept, but sources close to senior royals have warned them to consider that Harry and Meghan could secretly record their conversations.
I must be clear that there is no suggestion the couple would ever do that, but even the concern they would is illustrative of just how toxic relationships have become.
There is also an ongoing fear the couple will continue to leak intimate family moments to favoured American TV broadcasters.
I’m told Prince Charles and Prince William have made it known that they simply will no longer countenance even the smallest detail of their complex family relationships being used as fodder for US stars, after revelations by both Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King on US network CBS about private conversations between the senior royals caused fury.
Somewhat astonishingly, Harry and Meghan are now considered bigger pariahs than Prince Andrew internally within the royal institution, even though all three were banished by the Queen from the post-Trooping the Colour Buckingham Palace balcony appearance.
A royal source explains: ‘Prince Andrew is less of a pariah than Harry and Meghan as far as the family are concerned. The public might be surprised, but within the family it is seen as if he didn’t do anything wrong. They have to believe that.’
As it turned out, a conveniently timed case of Covid-19 avoided the PR disaster of Andrew appearing at the Service of Thanksgiving, a prospect that had horrified courtiers.
And despite the sense of dread over the presence of Harry and Meghan, coupled with ongoing fears about the Queen’s health, the Platinum Jubilee is already considered an overwhelming success.
It wasn’t just the public who were stunned at Harry and Meghan’s notable snub following an awkward appearance at St Paul’s Cathedral for the Service of Thanksgiving.
The Queen rightly remained at the heart of proceedings, putting her health on the line to appear three times on the Buckingham Palace balcony.
Courtiers are also particularly delighted with the impromptu humanising moment yesterday afternoon where Prince Charles took a boisterous Prince Louis on his knee, to give his mum Kate a reprieve so she could take in the Pageant – an image that doesn’t march with Harry’s portrayal of his dad as cold.
But crucially Prince Charles’s vision of the future of the monarchy was presented, with Camilla and the Cambridges taking centre stage.
Yesterday’s balcony appearance where the Queen appeared alongside Charles, Camilla, William, Kate, George, Charlotte and Louis will be seen as the enduring historic image from all the weekend’s festivities.
Of course, in Charles’s original blueprint Prince Harry and Meghan, probably with their children, would have appeared on the balcony, too.
That wasn’t to be and the monarchy has weathered the past two and a half years of acrimony and potentially even come out stronger, in the UK at least, where the attacks on the Royal Family by the Sussexes have been seen as deeply disloyal.
But the irony is that, just as the Royal Family has moved on, it seems like the Harry and Meghan could want more involvement in the future.
For commercial reasons at least, Hollywood bosses believe the Sussexes need to keep a closer proximity to their British relatives in the months and years to come to keep their brand relevant.
Speaking to a number of senior US media executives, the crude reality is that the likes of Netflix and Spotify like their big money signing to be connected to the institution they have been so desperate from which to distance themselves.
Courtiers are now watching closely to see if Harry and Meghan release any pictures of their weekend in the UK, especially their meeting with the Queen, in the coming weeks or months.
But with the Platinum Jubilee over, the future of the royal relationships now hinges on Harry’s seemingly delayed autobiography, which remains without a publication date despite being due for release this year.
Harry and Meghan pictured leaving St Paul’s Cathedral following the Thanksgiving service on Sunday
If, as expected, the Duke of Sussex attacks his father, stepmother and brother in the book, courtiers believe it will be almost impossible for relations to recover in the future.
All of which would provide our enduring Queen, who has vowed to continue her incomparable service, even more unnecessary stress in her twilight years.
If Harry and Meghan respect the Queen as much as they often insist, for once they should put her feelings before their desire to settle scores.
But what this wonderful weekend celebrating Her Majesty showed me is that sniping from the sideline by the Duke and Duchess of Woke is becoming increasingly irrelevant – and that is a very good thing.